If it hurts, take care of it (by Dana McMahan)

I haven’t had a day since I started working out that I haven’t hurt. The weights get heavier and the work harder, so my muscles never get used to it, and they protest with soreness every time. But I deal with it — I try to stretch and walk on days off, and just accept it as part of the process. Nobody said it would be easy.

But there’s being sore and then there’s pain from an actual injury. And a couple hours after my squat incident where I freaked out with a heavy weight and jerked it up with my back I learned the difference. I wrote Ben to tell him my entire right shoulder area, front and back was in major pain (a rule of working with him: he needs to know about anything that affects training). He replied quickly: “Ice. See Dr. Bowling ASAP.”

So the next morning I had my first session with Dr. Kyle Bowling at Kentucky Sports Chiropractic — which just happens to be located right inside CrossFit! No need to explain to somebody what it is we do here, and how I came to be in a position to throw 120 pounds with my back. Doctor Kyle listened to what had happened, asked about what else hurts, and explained what he does.

I was never good at science, and dropped anatomy before I could flunk it, but I think I grasped the basis of what he was saying. First, everything is connected. That makes sense. And when you injure a muscle or other soft tissue, it basically forms something like a scab inside of you. He called this adhesion. If allowed to remain, it can form scar tissue that impairs how that muscle works. Then other muscles and tissue nearby get called into play to make up for this bad spot. This just makes things worse as other parts try to compensate for the place you hurt in the first place. He explained that it was good I came in right away because he could break up the adhesion and prevent the scar tissue from forming.

He assessed the area I’d injured — as well as other areas I’ve experienced issues with in the past, including the psoas, where my squat work has shown me I have issues. Then he explained what he was going to do and why, which is exactly how I like things. (If Ben had a quarter for every time I asked him “why” about my workout ….). For the injured area, he applied pressure while shortening and lengthening the muscle. It hurt a bit (though he was careful to monitor the degree and type of hurt) and he explained that it would likely be sore later. For the psoas he did the same, applying pressure to the muscle low in the side of my stomach — evidently this muscle snakes around from front to hip to back — while again shortening and lengthening the related muscles. This hurt as well, and I expect I’ll really feel it later. But it was the kind of pain that you know is going to make you better, in the same way that the pain of a therapeutic massage promises later relief. He also worked on my lower and mid back, just to keep everything in good working order, and checked out the wrist I’d sprained during my adventures in Thai kickboxing.

I was happy to hear that the injury was minor and will heal easily, not interrupting my training, and that the work he did on my psoas should provide some relief in just a few sessions. I’m glad I didn’t just try to man up and bear the pain when it hit, or not tell Ben out of worry he’d stop my training. Serious workouts, let alone injuring myself, have an impact on the body, and I’m glad there’s a pro around who can address things when they come up.

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